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If dreams of bagging a 6,000-meter (19,500-foot) peak or trekking through the wilderness haunt your nights, Huaraz is the place for you. Huaraz sits at a lofty 3,090 meters (10,042 feet), and the surrounding mountains are even higher. Allowing time to acclimatize is a life-saving necessity. Drinking lots of water and pacing yourself help avoid high-altitude pulmonary edema (commonly known as altitude sickness, or soroche in Peru). The climbing and trekking season runs from May through September—the driest months. You can trek during the off-season, but drudging every day through thick rain isn't fun. Climbing during the off-season can be downright dangerous, as crevasses get covered up by the new snow. Even if you're an experienced hiker, you shouldn't venture into the backcountry without a guide.
The guided treks in the region vary by the number of days and the service. You can opt for smaller one-, two-, and three-day hikes, or an expedition of 10 to 20 days. Most guided treks provide donkeys to carry your equipment, plus an emergency horse. So many outfitters are in the area that looking for a qualified company can become overwhelming. Visit a few places, talk with the guides, and make sure you're getting what you really want.
Casa de Guías. An association of certified freelance guides, Casa de Guías offers excellent advice and personalized trips, including mountaineering and trekking as well as rock- and ice-climbing courses. Parque Ginebra 28/G, Huaraz. 043/427–545. www.agmp.pe. Prices vary. Closed Sun.